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The Times story:G-spot is a myth

January 3, 2010 8 comments

Frontpage news on The Sunday Times: What an anti-climax: G-spot is a myth. What qualities does this story have that earned itself a place on the frontpage?  

The Sunday Times Frontpage

A new research reveals that the universally believed G-spot in women’s vagina doesn’t exist at all. It’s imaginary in the first place, then reinforced by media reporting and experts’ talking. 

As you can see, this piece of news takes the lower left space, accompanied by stories of failed terror attack, public pay and MP staying above law stories on the front page. 

The G-spot myth is not the topic of this post, but its news value triggers some thinking. 

What makes news?

It’s boring to talk about ‘criteria’ without looking at real stories. So let’s see what values this G-spot story has got. 

I’ll go through the list of news values I learned from school and tick where it fits: 

  1. immediacy.
  2. conflict. √
    Some say there isn’t; some insist there is. Both sides argue in the story.
  3. proximity.√
    Except for those too young or too old, people are sort of related to the news, married or unmarried.
  4. threat to public safety.
    Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Hard to tell.
  5. public interest.
    Not this one but the next one.
  6. human interest. √
  7. entertaining. √
    Absolutely. Full stop.
  8. Big name involvement.
    This is where the journalist can improvement on the story. LoL~
  9. unusual. Half √
    It’s not usual, at least.
  10. impact. Half √ again.
    Don`t know what kind of impact there will be. Maybe positive for some, but negative for others.
  11. breaking.
  12. exclusive story.
  13. topical. √
    You want to hear about it, but you might feel shy to talk about it.
  14. scandal.
  15. juicy. √
    A lot, isn’t it?

If a story has any one of these values, it could have become news worth publishing or broadcasting.

This G-spot story has 7 out of 15. Wow, didn’t realize that before. Nearly half !

Surely it is news, and a piece of good news. I have to agree with the editor to put it on the frontpage. 

Readers decide contents

Was I joking when talking about news values just now? Maybe. 

But the interesting thing is that this story has never been published on the front page of Times Online. There is nowhere to find it no matter how deep you scroll down the page. You have to search. 

Why? 

By my guess, Times Online readers don’t change much on weekends from weekdays. Almost the same group of people visit the site looking for the kinds of news they are familiar with. 

This G-spot story, as categorized on the site under ‘science’ channel, might not appeal to news readers. 

But for the print version delivered to home, people read it for relaxation. It’s weekend anyway. People need something soft, interesting, fun, surprising, or anything but serious. 

It is readers who decide what the contents should be. 

The Times did a good job in this sense, didn’t they?

PS: Do click G-spot is a myth on the Times site to see the picture they use. This is a good example where pictures say more than words.

E-reading ushers into a new generation

December 17, 2009 1 comment

An innovative platform for the next generation of E-magazines was revealed recently. If reading on screen is no longer different from, or even better than reading on paper, does it mean the end of paper era?

This platform is jointly developed by five newspaper and magazine publishers including Times Inc. and the News Corporation.

It is supposed to set up the standard for the industry. No name of the platform or the equipment is given. How much they have invested is not known either.

The companies will sell the new electronic versions of their contents through an online store like iTunes.

Features demonstrated in the video released by Times Inc. are just some of the sophistications of this new platform.

E-reading won’t kill paper reading

The media conveying messages have changed dramatically throughout the history: from stones to bamboos, from parchment to papyrus, and now from paper to electronic screens, such as Kindle of Amazon.

No medium has incurred so many controversies as the latest development of electronic screens. To many, this is brand new experience.

The benefits one could possible get from e-reading include:

  • enormous materials in one “book”, the e-reader
  • visual and audio entertaining compared with black-and-white of most books
  • interactive with authors, writers, publishers, and even advertisers
  • cheaper content, hopefully, at least after wide application of such an e-reader
  • real-time multi-user sharing, with the incorporation of Internet access in the future

Younger generations have already accustomed to reading online. They would be more than happy to embrace a portable screen.

However, book lovers might stick to their old habit. You can touch the screen to read the next page, but you’ll lose the pleasure of actually feeling the books: its weight, its texture, its papers, etc.

Besides, your eyes might easily get tired after long-time reading on a screen. You will also not be able to send a good book as a gift.

Therefore, e-reading won’t take the place of paper reading, at least in the foreseeable future.

A headline that doesn’t make sense

November 21, 2009 Leave a comment

While reading the Times story “Opera Winfrey says goodbye to television talk show after 25 years“, I accidentally noticed another headline which says “Focus on the big issues, not bananas”.

I was so curious that I decided to click through to find out what it is about. Here it is:

Focus on the big issues, not the bananas
Open elections, greater democracy, energy and aid should head the list for Europe’s new leaders

Alas, after 20 words, I figured out what this article is about when I see “Europe’s new leaders”.

I don’t know if there is any cultural connotations in the headline. If not, I have to say this is really a bad headline no matter how “fit” it appears to those who finish reading the article.

The intro is also terrible.  Subject is too long, and verb is too far away from the subject. Even though it comes in S-V-O format, it fails to deliver the message effectively.

I understand this is a comment article, not a piece of news, but still, it could have been better, at least in terms of headline and intro line.

BBC is said to have the best intro for its stories. I searched BBC site and here’s some of its headlines and intros:

  • The Record: Europe
    After weeks of horse-trading and meetings in smoke-filled rooms, the top EU jobs have been appointed.
  • EU foreign head dismisses critics
    One of the two newly appointed figures to the European Union’s top jobs has hit back at criticism that she does not have enough experience for the post.

PS: When I typed the headline of the Opera Winfrey story, I typed “said”, and then I realized it is “says”. This reminded me of what my TV Journalism teacher Richard said over a week ago: “Try to use the present tense to engage your audience” (not the exact words, but the meaning is there. Thanks, Richard. )